"Are you mad at me?" Kyle finally asked, the words quiet.
"No, I'm not mad at you," Riley sighed as they left the school parking lot, his hands tight on the steering wheel of his pickup truck.
"You look mad," Kyle said. "And you haven't spoken to me since the show ended. Not really."
"That's not because of you," Riley finally said, fiddling with her tiara. "God, I hate this thing."
"No, don't take it off," Kyle said, hand shooting out.
"Why not?" She said quizzically, glancing over at him, for the first time not just gazing out the window.
"Because I like to see you in it," he said, voice lowering again. He didn't like it when she lost her usual sparkle, when she wasn't talking a mile a minute to tell him about her day. "Were the other girls being bitches again?"
"When are they not?"
Her voice was bitter, resigned.
"Do you want me to go back there and yell at them?" He joked. "Better yet, take those damn tiaras off of their heads and put them on yours? You're better than third place, baby."
"I don't want to be any place," Riley said simply. "I'm sick of these. And mama is just goin' to keep pushin' until I get first."
"I don't mind them," Kyle finally said. "At least they don't bore me, like I thought they would."
"I'm guessin' you wish there was a swimsuit section though," Riley said, a smile twitching at her face for the first time.
"I do wish that," Kyle breathed, imagining Riley in a high quality bikini, not just something you'd find at Target. In one of those suits you'd see supermodels wear.
She would look so much better than they all did. She had so much more going for her.
He cleared his throat, knowing that she needed his support right now, his words and not just his hands, or his lips...or other parts of him.
He wasn't going to be a jerk and let his reaction to her mean that they didn't talk through this. She needed this. He could tell.
"Yeah, well," Riley sighed, and leaned on the window. "Apparently that's too sexist to feature anymore. And yet everything else isn't. Every other damn thing else."
"Baby, what happened?" He finally said. "What specifically happened that you feel like this?"
"You'll just get mad," she breathed. "I don't want to ruin your night."
He felt himself tensing, wondering what on earth it would be, because of course he'd get mad if they'd been trash talking her, but just on her behalf. Ruin his night?
"It's ruinin' yours," he whispered.
"They think I'm cheatin' on you with Evan," she said. "Or cheatin' on him with you. Basically they think I'm hookin' up with both of you."
He felt his hands clench on the steering wheel, just at the thought of Evan with Riley in that kind of situation. Because he loved his brother. And he knew very clearly that Evan and Riley had been friends long before he came along. And he knew that their relationship was….unique.
First of all, that was ridiculous. And second of all, he might kill someone.
And he wasn't sure who it would be.
He found himself pulling over into the WalMart parking lot, putting the car into park and finally turning to face Riley, his girlfriend, his love, the woman he couldn't breathe without.
"Hey," he whispered, caught for a moment at the glimpse he got of her, illuminated by the lights outside, looking luminescent and not quite there; he was still surprised, sometimes, to remember that she was his, that she was here, that he hadn't imagined all of this.
That this fragile, beautiful girl loved him, Kyle Parks, the guy with all the problems, the one who played football, sure, but once that was over, who would he be?
And he still wasn't sure that he was good enough to play professionally. He just didn't know.
All he knew was that he refused to place all of eggs in one basket. And that somehow his grandma's old, odd sayings still popped into his mind sometimes.
The tiara glinted in the streetlight outside.
"Why are we in a WalMart parking lot?" Riley finally asked, turning to look over at him.
"Because I wanted to talk to you about this but then I got distracted," Kyle admitted.
"WalMart is not a good place to be distracted," she said, eyes narrowing. "Kyle, take me to the point."
"What?" He stammered. "No, baby, I'm not tryin' to get it on."
"I know you aren't but I don't feel like talkin' tonight," she said, voice softening. "Drive, baby."
He felt his brain light up, he licked his lips, hearing her words, and put the truck back into drive, pulling out of the parking lot, not sure what he was doing but knowing that he was going to do what she said.
She wanted his hands on her. She wanted that validation that he would still touch her after the things she'd heard this afternoon, said about them, the digs and insinuations.
How one girl had marvelled that Riley's dress would still fit after all that she'd been up to lately.
She wanted him to hold her.
And then she wanted him to touch her.
His truck effortlessly transitioned to the off road portion of this drive and he was finally stopping it and she hit the recline button on his chair, shooting him backwards, causing him to swear as she unbuckled and clambered over the console.
"Riles," he breathed as she climbed onto him, her damn pageant dress getting everywhere, completely in the way.
"I don't want to talk," she said, and he felt her lithe thighs finally spread over his waist, skirt hitched up enough.
"Riles," he groaned, words cutting off as she shifted down onto his already raging erection, his brain shorting for a moment.
Her hands were settling on his shoulders, coming up to cup his face, tender, lips plump as she licked them slowly, in one smooth motion that made his brain fry even more.
She was leaning down, tendrils of hair brushing his face. "I want you...all over me," she breathed. "I want you to make me forget this day ever happened."
He moaned, long and low, a sound of surrender, and then he was pulling her down to him, chests meeting; he captured her lips in his and she had never tasted anything so hot.
He felt like fire, and his hands were so big, finally coming up to grab hold of her zipper.
It was going to stick; she was about to shift up, help him with it, but he'd already jerked it down and it was so goddamn effortless, after it had taken Lynette and Lacey a whole five minutes to get it zipped; earlier it had been sticking like hell.
It was one of his sexiest moments, she swore to God.
He was pulling the bodice down, and her strapless bra, the one that had been cutting into her for the whole damn show, was finally being unclipped; she felt such relief when it was gone, when his hands had replaced it on her breasts.
He always made her feel so beautiful, just by touching her, just by the sounds he made, by how slowly his rough hands moved over her, by how his eyes got so dark, and how he couldn't tear his eyes from her face.
How it was still about her, and not just about her body.
Not like it was at all the beauty pageants.
It was about her heart and her mind, and her fire.
When he looked at her, really looked at her, it was like he could see straight into her soul.
And he was pulling back, their lips parting in a moment that made her heart ache from how good this felt.
"I love you, Riley Campbell," he breathed. "I swear to god, one day you'll be Riley Parks."
She felt her eyes widening, wondering if that was a proposal, and then his mood had changed; his eyes were darkening.
"And now let's see how we can get you out of this dress," he rasped.
Her nipples were taut between his fingers, and she gasped as he rolled them between middle and forefingers; as he moved to tug on them, bring them even more erect, and she couldn't breathe; he was shifting their positions and then lowering his head to her breast, to suck one tip into his mouth.
She couldn't breathe.
She couldn't fucking breathe.
His mouth was so hot, so wet, and his teeth were sharp, one nibble, and then his lips were clamping over her, and then his tongue was finally sweeping out to taste her, make her suppress something that was remarkably like a scream.
His hands were creeping under her hitched up dress, gliding up her thighs, so rough against her smooth skin, and she shivered, feeling them on the inside of her legs.
And she was expecting him to drag it out; he always took his time but she was already wet, aching for him, and then she gasped to feel his fingers slide her panties aside in one quick motion, sliding inside her, finding her aching center.
She moaned; he was too good at this, too skilled; his lips were making her feel incredible and his fingers were making her feel like she was on fire and finally, finally, she could think of nothing else; this was her entire world, she could think of nothing else but Kyle Parks and the way he made her feel.
He was bringing her closer, making her wilder, and she was gasping, arching into his touch, just wanting, needing, more, needing closer, needing this to be brought to completion.
She could feel every move he made, she appreciated every move he made, and then, finally, suddenly, she felt it coming on, and then her world was exploding, leaving her limp over him, he was falling back; just a little smug at how he could make her feel, and her lips were on his neck.
He tasted salty; he was sweating.
His fingers slid from her, she gasped to see him raise them to his mouth, lick them clean.
"I love the way you feel," he breathed. "I love the way you taste. I love how you're the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Her hair was messy, falling from its updo; she slowly pulled the clips out, took off the tiara, swung her hair to one side of her neck, just staring down at him.
He couldn't breathe when her eyes were like this, full of stars, yet dead serious, completely focused on him, like he was the only man in the world. Like he was the only one who'd ever see her like this.
"I want this," she suddenly said, and was tugging at his jeans, and he couldn't bring himself to be responsible; this moment was too loaded and he couldn't let it end prematurely, he couldn't let it be over.
Her hands were freeing him, gliding over him, small, grasping him.
And then she was just looking at him, eyes dark, bottom lip caught tight in her teeth.
"What do you want?" She breathed. "I could blow you."
He could see her eyes, and he didn't want her to blow him.
"I want you," he said. "I want all of you."
She nodded; they didn't usually have 'real' sex because she didn't want to get pregnant, because she didn't want the risk and, honestly, it felt good no matter what they did.
"I don't have a condom," he told her.
She tossed her head. "It's fine," she told him, licking her lips again, and he felt his mind go wild.
And he was easing her panties down, and she was so eager, but their movements were unhurried.
And then she sank onto him, dress bunched up, bodice falling down, all of her revealed to him, all the right parts.
She was so tight, so warm, and he had never known something so sweet. She welcomed him utterly, and he always felt like they went perfectly together.
A perfect fit.
Damn it, they were a perfect fit.
He felt himself come, after long moments of rocking together, after seeing her eyes glow, her breasts bounce.
And she moaned, angling herself, coming again with him.
And they were wet and panting, clinging to each other like they were the only port in a storm.
"I adore you, Riley Campbell," he breathed.
"And someday I'll be Riley Parks," Riley whispered back, kissing by his ear.
And then no more conversation.